Democrats: Don’t offer this president a path for re-election

See Disclaimer.

Are we at risk of re-electing an unfit president in November 2020? Absolutely!

I must express my deep disappointment on you, Republicans. It is perplexing that some of you support this president because you agree with his (lack of) values. But it is truly distressing that many of you support him despite recognizing that he is morally and ethically unfit, dangerously uninformed, self-centered to an extreme, and willing to jeopardize long-term national values and global sustainability. That is too steep a price to pay for court control and for short-term favorable outcomes on pet issues. History (and your grandchildren) will judge you harshly.

But make no mistake, Democrats. You really are the key! And I am deeply concerned with you, too.

Having a spectrum of opinions within the Democratic Party is healthy. Internal struggles between “establishment” and “progressive” views are legitimate. Vibrant, constructive primary debates are a real plus. But 2020 requires pragmatism, discipline and unity. Remember: If Trump wins, America loses. And unforced errors and self-defeating internal tensions could be easily leveraged by an incumbent who is resilient to his own (many) mistakes, but opportunistic to the mistakes of others.

Left-wing Democrats—impatient to correct perceived wrongs, both new and historical—are pushing candidates to primary positions that will hurt the nominee in the general election. And centrist Democrats are failing to create and embrace a realistic and galvanizing agenda that entrains support both from their left (including innovative rebels) and from their right (including principled Republicans).

No president can, in 2020, be elected without moderates. Moderates may lean Republican, Democrat, third-part or independent. We form a central core of voters who are unpredictable. We don’t have a single voice or voting criterion. As we go, so does the presidential race.

I am among those moderate independents who will refuse—on principle alone—to vote for this president. We deeply oppose the accelerating erosion of what is good in America—an erosion that he has enabled and catalyzed. We will not waste our vote. We will vote Democrat, because we want a clear conscience, and we know that our grandchildren’s future is at stake.

But many other moderates, across the political spectrum, will make their choice accounting for specific, more traditional, issues (most certainly economy, but also gun control, health care, private-government balance, abortion, etc). And that is their right: Freedom of choice is exactly what democracy means. Within this group, even those who will not stomach voting for this president, must still be convinced to vote for a Democrat. They do have choices beyond red or blue: They can abstain, or cast a protest vote on a third-party, independent or write-in candidate.

False voting choices, you say? Perhaps. But voters might still make them, short of a compelling Democratic nominee—and that could well lead to re-electing this president.

For the Democratic nominee to win the presidency, she or he must recognize—at a deep level—that the country needs to be brought together, not torn further apart. The four years beyond 2020 must be dedicated to building consensus, rather than imposing someone’s will on someone else.

This is all undeniably tricky. But in almost every issue, there is room for building broad national consensus. As long as we start—now—signaling to the Democratic candidates that such is what we want. And we can signal that only if we make it our collective priority.

— Antonio Baptista

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